Assault and assault and battery are typically prosecuted as misdemeanors. At their lowest level of offense, misdemeanor assault crimes are punishable by a few months in jail or less. Even when the penalties are enhanced for domestic assault and battery or assault against a referee or a school employee, the maximum penalty for misdemeanor assault is a year in jail.
Oklahoma law does not see all assault crimes as equal, however, and certain conditions of an assault can quickly elevate a criminal charge to a felony that has the defendant looking at the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
Some of these felony assault crimes fall under the "85 Percent Rule," which mandates that anyone convicted of a specified violent crime must serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The "85 Percent Crimes" are specified in 21 O.S. 13.1 and include the following assault crimes:
As an example, assault with a deadly weapon carries a maximum sentence or 10 years in prison on the first offense. If a person were convicted and sentenced to the maximum term, he or she would not be eligible for parole until serving a minimum of 8 years and 6 months.
Assault and battery is considered "aggravated" when it involves one or both of the two following conditions:
Aggravated assault and battery is penalized by a maximum prison term of five years and a maximum fine of $500.
It is important to note that the disability, impairment, or disfigurement associated with serious bodily injury need not be permanent in order for a prosecutor to file a charge of aggravated assault. Rather, state law describes such injuries as "protracted," meaning long-lasting.
If the disability or disfigurement is obvious and permanent, a person may be charged with maiming, a much more serious felony offense than aggravated assault and battery. A maiming conviction carries the possibility of life in prison.
When a person uses an implement other than his or her own body to perpetrate an assault, he or she may be charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a felony punishable by a maximum of ten years in prison.
In prosecuting such a case, the district attorney may deem almost any object to be a dangerous weapon. These "weapons" can include knives or other sharp objects, bats, tasers, and even ordinary household objects wielded with the intent to harm or injure another person.
While hurling stapler at an annoying co-worker could get you charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, trying to run over him in the parking lot will get you charge with assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Assaulting a person with an instrument that is likely to cause death - a gun, knife, or car, for example - or using force that is likely to cause death is felony punishable by a maximum of life in prison. It is an 85 percent crime.
When a person commits an assault with the intent to kill his or her victim, he or she is charged with a violent felony subject to the 85 percent rule and punishable by a maximum of life in prison. These crimes include poisoning with intent to kill and shooting with intent to kill.
Administering poison with intent to kill is punishable by a minimum of ten years in prison with a maximum of life in prison if the victim actually ingests the poison but does not die.
Shooting with intent to kill is punishable by a maximum of life in prison, but if a person uses a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a firearm, crossbow, or other weapon, the crime carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison with a maximum life sentence.
For the purpose of determining parole eligibility, a life sentence is calculated at 45 years. Anyone sentenced to life in prison for committing an "intent to kill" crime would be required to more than 38 years before the possibility of being paroled.
Just as a person may be charged with felony murder if a death occurs in the commission of a felony, a person may be subject to felony assault charges if he or she commits an assault in the attempt to commit a separate felony crime. Assault with intent to commit a felony carries a maximum of five years in prison in addition to any penalties associated with the underlying crime.
If you are charged with a felony assault crime, you could be facing life behind bars. Violent crimes are often associated with mandatory minimum sentences as well as compliance with the Mary Rippy Violent Crime Offenders Registration Act. This act requires those convicted of certain violent crimes to be listed on the Oklahoma Violent Offender Registry.
With such life-altering consequences on the line, finding skillful legal defense representation is critical for anyone facing felony assault charges. To find out how we can help, or to schedule a confidential, no-risk consultation with an experienced defense lawyer, call (405) 608-4990.